14 August 2014
The Springbok Women delivered a spirited performance against Samoa in Marcoussis on Wednesday to secure a nail-biting 25-24 victory in their penultimate Women’s Rugby World Cup clash.
The victory, their first of the tournament, means the team will have a shot at securing their best finish yet in the tournament, as it earned them a place in the ninth/tenth place playoff on the final day’s play on Sunday.
Until now, the team’s best finish in the Women’s Rugby World Cup was tenth place in 2010.
The first half in Marcoussis proved to be a back-and-forth affair between the teams as South Africa allowed Samoa to bounce back immediately after they scored points throughout the half. But they maintained their composure in a tense second half to secure a narrow victory.
South Africa got off to a firing start when flyhalf Zandile Nojoko scored a try inside the first minute after flank Rachelle Geldenhuys charged down a ball in Samoa’s half and made a few yards before passing to Nojoko, who touched down for South Africa’s first try of the tournament and a 7-0 lead.
Samoa, however, hit back soon after through flyhalf Bella Milo, who finished off a well-worked team try following a series of drives off of rucks and mauls, which carried the islanders into South Africa’s 22.
Springbok Women’s captain and centre Zenay Jordaan restored South Africa’s lead in the 14th minute with a penalty.
Second Samoan try
It was short-lived as Samoa put in a big hit on defence from the kick-off, which dislodged the ball from flank Shona-Leah Weston’s hands and the Samoans pounced on it to cross the tryline for the second time, which, with the conversion, gave them a 14-10 lead.
South Africa again managed to string together phases on attack in the exchanges that followed and earned a penalty at a ruck, which Jordaan slotted to reduce the deficit to a single point.
Lawrence Sephaka’s charges then bulled their way to a second try in 31st minute from a solid lineout, with Geldenhuys dotting down. A successful conversion extended the South African lead to 20-14.
Milo then caught the South African defence off-guard to cross for Samoa’s third try on the contest, and the conversion gave them a narrow 21-20 lead.
Shortly after the break, the Springbok Women lost lock Celeste Adonis to a yellow card for infringing at a ruck, and Samoa added points in her absence as Milo landed a penalty to put the islanders four points clear at 24-20.
South Africa responded positively and dominated possession, which allowed them to camp in Samoa’s territory for most of the half. Their attacking efforts finally paid off in the 59th minute when replacement wing Veroeshka Grain received the ball out wide and ran around a few defenders to score their third try of the match. The five- pointer gave South Africa a slim 25-24 lead.
The final quarter was tense as both teams gave everything on attack and defence, which resulted in a stop-start affair. South Africa, though, absorbed the pressure well to hold on for the one-point victory.
They will face Spain in their final World Cup clash on Sunday in Marcoussis after the Spanish defeated Kazakhstan 18-5.
Should South Africa win the match, they would claim their their best finish in their three appearances at the Women’s Rugby World Cup. A defeat would result in another tenth place finish.